Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Cellphone Comparison

Am inclined to start this out with.... yeah right.
My Nokia 5800 Express phone has given great service last 3-4 years, 1000's of pics on 2 trips round America and another to Europe, small size, robust enough to survive everyday work and a couple of drops, good reception out here in the sticks, relative. Ahead of its time somewhat given new smart-phones now on the scene, but lately the screen has lost some of its touch response, and now and again erratic behaviour.
Last year I picked up a Huawei Ideos X5, Android o/s, and more recently, a Nokia Lumia 800 touted at the business market.
Have to say I'm disappointed in both.
The X5, despite being 5 mp camera'd takes lousy pics, theyre blurry. The on-screen shutter only contributes to camera shake, and the on-screen zoom is rat-shit when youre in a hurry to capture a scene. As well as the pics, it also stores thumbnails of the same, but FFS, what for? When you copy to your desktop pic file you get 2 of each, and then the confusion starts which ones to delete.
The button on the side controlling ring volume annoyingly lends itself nicely to accidental adjustment.
A fault common to both phones is the frustratingly small size of text font. In Android you can get an app to get round this, but FFS, for the price, why cant the phones just do it.
The X5 dosent have carriage return either, well it does in calendar, just not in texting, but like the 5800, the Lumia does. I got round the font size thing with the old 5800 permitting setting text to bold. The Lumia has a slightly better keyboard for my fat blokes fingers, both it and the X5 utilise heat recognition, the old 5800, bless it, had a very positive stylus, or you could tap the keyboard with the edge of your thumbnail.
I think the Android calendar is better than the Windows one.
Neither of these phones connect automatic with my desktop wifi, and vice versa. Neither can they do a simple world clock like the 5800 can. Theyre both unco-operative when trying to access the internet, the 5800 never had this problem.
However, the Who-are-we Idiot X5 is the lesser of my problems, its my main phone for the time being.
Now for the Lumia.
It runs on Windows, which should have been enough to put anyone off, but I thought it would be neat if I could copy my Excel files across and skip off to work with a useful interchange of data in prospect.
No such luck, its not as simple as plugging in your USB cable and seeing drive:F or whatever, you have to email files as an attachment, in which case your carrier gets to clip the ticket, so theyre not going to help, and in my case, my cell reception here is marginal.
There is a wifi work-around available, but as I said, wifi connection's another problem to overcome.
You can also swap stuff via an i-drive like Skydrive, and I can see some potential in being able to access stuff from anywhere, but jees, again with my marginal reception I have to go down the end of my driveway to be sure of making the down/upload, that is, if I can ever get connected to the internet.
However, the real dark person in the woodpile on this one is, what happens if there's a complete power/comms failure like we had in the 2004 flood, or some hostile power decides to blow the satellites out of the ether, or why would you even put private information into the cloud where every tom, dick, and hacker can have a go at it.
There is an accompanying file transfer capability in the form of Zune, but it only does pics, music, and vids. Why not data files FFS? Nowhere near the facility of Docs to Go with Android.
And of top of that, when I set the Zune system up on my desktop, it started to do some uninvited read-in (or out) of my existing several thousand pics, so I quickly emasculated that, plus I swear there's some definition loss between phone and desktop.
I followed Nokia because I thought I could simply copy my custom ringtones across, but no such luck again, the 5800 used .arm files for ringtones, so I have to convert the files to mp3, then go through a bit of techno-acrobatics to genre them into the Lumia.
I also thought I'd get the superior Nokia reception of my 5800, but another fail. Retailers look at you bald-face and say there's no difference between any of them, which again is laugh-100 territory. Right now I've got 3 bars on the X5, and ranging from half to nothing on the Lumia. Vodafone offer a signal amplifier adding a $340 insult to injury, but its wifi dependent, so help me.
The Lumia is a nicely crafted machine, comes with a rubber sort of protective surround, +/- buttons on the top, plus a shutter button that takes you direct from phone to camera, and ziess lens which is another plus. Unfortunately, the lens is near mid.mounted on the back, and it gets condensation off your hand pretty easily.
The simm card is a micro simm which means you cant swap it out to the old phone, or others youre using or trialling.
These two phones cost the guts of $1400, I've got a couple of fancy bits of machinery, but I'm no better off function-wise. With Microsoft and Vodafone I expect I'll have to spend even more for solutions.
As for Nokia, c'mon guys, surely you can do better than this ...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Aiyana finally gets a maiden win

With a nice run at the 26 April Blenheim meeting, she got a stylish length and a bit win in a maiden 1950m.
I can appreciate trainer Myers placing her in this race, one she could win, even if a short back-up from last Mondays start at Wanganui, where she was 9.5 lengths off the winner.
Looks like Aiyana's not a fast horse, she runs about 4 sec off the pace of higher rating fields over the 2000m odd distance. So far anyway, on G3 tracks.
How she'll go on easier ground comparative to the opposition, yet to find out. The team at Sandhaven Stables have done a great job getting her past the mind problems we thought she was carrying from her 3yo injuries, and it was pretty big of Peter McKenzie to suggest the change of stable as a possible solution.
At least now I have more data to add to her future breeding decisions, which are, stronger front lower limbs, and some speed blood, without sacrifice of marginal stamina and professional dosage.
I installed Tesio Power recently, interested to see it has a dosage analysis. Have to comment I disagree with the dosage analysis only going as far back as 5 generations. Knowing what I do about breeding both sheep and cattle, and more latterly how DNA is involved in the process, I'd agree with the original dosage architect, Franco Varola, that the compounding effect of Chefs de Race as far back as year dot gives the truer picture.
I've also enrolled for TAB's Race Tracker and am settling back to the task of nutting out what Kevin's up to with my horse, after the fact. It beats me how the newspapers can be picking her to win, when I dont even know she's going to the races.
On gripes yet to be settled, is the banning of owners from following their horses into the saddling/stall/stable enclosure. I guess plenty of trainers would like owners kept out of their hair, irrespective of any stated desire of NZ Racing to comply with OSH safety concerns.
But.... like many owner/breeders, handling horses of all levels of tractability is part of my daily work. Further, I'm not a "social" owner, I dont go to the races to ponce around, and have little use for the social one drink on the stewards after a race. Observation on all facets of my horses' performance however, is important to me, both on track and off, and to and from, so I can make the sort of breeding decisions that involve character and type as much as running performance.
I've spent something like $50k outside of breeding costs, getting this horse prepped to this 5yo stage, her earnings at the races so far will hardly cover 3 months training fees.
You'd think the industry would be a little less inclined to getting people like me pissed off.
Still, should comment what a picturesque course Blenheim's Waterlea is, and the camera work there for Aiyana's race rates among the best I've seen.
The gift pack presented by the club to winning owners is definitely a nice touch too.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Another goodbye old friend

The roller drill's sat around hardly used several years now. An Aitchison 9 footer, beautiful piece of machinery, couldnt be bettered sowing new grass into a cultivated seed-bed, but with the Grassfarmer direct drill also on the place, its sat languishing in the face of the latter's stitch-in ability.
Bit of a sad goodbye, and with a bit of trepidation that now its gone, I'll want it for some job or other.
However, devil take the hindmost, dont look back, I've traded it on a new Fieldmaster 2.3 mulcher topper.
Loaded ready to go
The wider cut will be a blessing for faster times topping, and the mulch function I look forward to assisting the direct drill get over the patches of weeds that sometimes present in the pasja stubble prior to re-grassing.
Transport was a bit of a problem, too wide or long for a permissable deck width, but we got the tilt drawbar up enough, Grange Transport obliged.
One thing I wont miss is the close manouvre to get its 10' overall through my mainly 11' gateways.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Something New

I've just had the Rangitikei Hunt Club use part of the farm for a hunt, the 450ac odd rolling to hill in the middle of the place, at the urging of neighbours Michael and Lynette, who host the hunt from their place.
Not without a bit of stress, worrying about what people would think, old carcases I'd been remiss in cleaning up over the years, fences needing attention, usual story, lining up a tourist route before letting a bunch of sightseers loose.
Further, I have to declare myself a bit of a hare lover, they're a real institution on a farm, always been there in an in-offensive life way.
But I needn't have worried too much, got the litter cleaned up in time, pushed the beef herd into the back paddocks, and ran the whole flock home the night before, for their tupping sort-up and drench, so that I could open all the gates to give the riders best of access.
You learn something every day, hares flee in about a 1km arc around their territory, rather than outright straight-line, ending up back "home", so my 450 ac circuit offering of a bit of flat and hill, gullies, and some sprayed gorse cover, turned out a happy ideal for them.
Even I was grateful to hear the Hunt Master spared the odd tired hare, to go seek fresher, more exciting quarry for the punters, they actually put up five in the couple hours, which in itself was a bit of a revelation, I havent seen hide nor hare of a hare for months.
In my ignorance I carried on drenching the ewes when they finished, and missed being on hand for the ritual thanking of property owners, hope I didnt appear too rude.
I'd sort of imagined there'd be a bit of a carry-on well into the evening, but apparently not so these days. A good hunter's worth a small fortune, so theyre not left tied up to the horse-truck while owners get on the turps, and like with all rural social occasions, drink-driving laws have brought about a sea-change in social behaviour.
Yes, I'd do it again.
Bit of stress cleaning up the place, but then that's probably to the good, and the early April date works in pretty well with my tupping muster.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Storm Casualty

Broke-back weather station
 Remember my enthusiasm for the weather station installed some time back?
Well, its a nonnie now.
The storm early Feb broke the stem holding the wind sensor clean off its mount, the wind was so furious, (although on second look, I think I can run a kiwi repair job on it).
On top of that, the batteries on the rain gauge ran out a couple of months prior, and of course you lose all the cumulative rain data, so I've reverted to the old plastic gauge.
On top of on top of that, if the power goes off inside the house you can lose data on the console as well.

As the world rushes to technology dependence, I just shake my head.
I got into handheld data-loggers years ago, the solid-state memory on them collapses when they're full, and if back-up and main batteries fail together, you get into trouble as well.
The unit I've got is supposed to be drop proof from 1 metre onto a hard surface, and sure, it does that just fine, but now a few years down the track, the plastic casing is cracking of its own accord, as all plastic eventually does on its road to inevitable decomposition.
So I've gone back to a pocket notebook.
Even the Palm handheld I tried wore me down, I need to look at a whole farm context, not be limited to a 3"-4" screen.
Smart phones are being held up as the new Nirvana, but having gone through the total isolation, power and comms, post 2004 Flood, plus having to keep the thing fully charged, and rely on power supply for that...

Good luck everyone.